Major bank loses millions to employee fraud
Forces gather to oppose corruption amendment

Sea weed drama for ‘Home and Away’ star


AAP - A FORMER Home and Away television actor has pleaded not guilty to possessing almost half a kilogram of marijuana on a sail boat surfing charter to PNG.

Putu Winchester, 33, who played a surfer named Pongo in the popular Australian TV series, was arrested in Bougainville with four other men last week.

Winchester - who was also in teenage drama Heartbreak High and police series Water Rats - and friends Thomas Olsen, 43, Clayton McDonald, 33, and Michael O'Neil, 41, yesterday pleaded not guilty to possessing 470 grams of marijuana allegedly found on the 16.5-metre yacht Perenti.

Friends of the NSW men believe the quantity is closer to 47 grams, claiming a recording error when local police weighed the alleged stash at the Buka post office.

Perenti captain, Queenslander Michael Northcote, 46, is waiting for a lawyer to fly from Port Moresby before entering a plea.

PNG customs officers seized Mr Northcote's boat and AAP understands customs and immigration infringements may follow.

The ‘Perenti Five’ were en route from the Solomon Islands as part of RASTA, Real Adventure Surf Tours Australia.

According to the RASTA website, the Perenti has sailed the Pacific on surfing tours for the past eight years.

The website advertises: "Sail aboard Perenti, where you will find the surf of your dreams".

But those dreams turned into a nightmare when Bougainville police arrested the men and put them in jail, forcing them to spend a harrowing weekend locked up with hardened criminals.

Since late last week, when the Buka court granted them each K1,000 ($400) bail, they have been staying at a local hotel.

ALOYSIUS LAUKAI reports from Buka:

A case against five Australians charged with illegally entering the Autonomous Region of Bougainville and having in their possession the dangerous drug marijuana has been adjourned for the third time to allow lawyer for the captain to arrive in Buka.

The men were arrested on board  the yacht, Perenti, in waters off Wakunai in central Bougainville.

No plea was entered and the court adjourned their case to 9.30 am today.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Do you know what happened to these guys? I read somewhere that it may have been dismissed because the police who searched the boat were under the influence of alcohol at the time?

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)